The fatty, waxy substance that makes up arterial plaque may become hard and full of calcium deposits over time. There are two kinds of cardiac CT scans used to detect coronary artery disease. The first kind is called a coronary CT angiogram, which involves receiving intravenous contrast and allows doctors to see the actual coronary blood vessels. A second kind of scan, called a calcium scoring CT scan, detects calcified deposits on or in the coronary arteries. It involves minimal radiation and only takes a few minutes to perform.
Temple cardiologists can use calcium scoring CT scans to quantitate the amount and extent of calcified arterial plaque as a measure of a patient’s cardiovascular disease risk. Temple has advanced scanners that reduce the time and radiation exposure involved to a level similar to undergoing a mammogram; however, calcium screening is best used as a decision tool only when a patient’s risk from atherosclerosis is uncertain.